Is the following sentence correct?

His selection was based solely on his grades and extra-curricular activities

(The context here is that I want to emphasize that this person was selected in a fair manner i.e. on the basis of grades and extra curricular activities alone.)

I'm confused because I do not know if I can write multiple reasons for selection if I've used solely.

I've looked at the definition of solely in Merriam Webster :
1. without another
2.to the exclusion of all else

So by definition 2, I think my sentence would be correct, but I'm not sure.

  • 2
    The sentence is fine. – Drew Jun 14 '17 at 18:06
  • 1
    If used to counter an accusation of favouritism, I'd choose this version. 'Solely' is a strong way of discounting say backhanders and nepotism. But if there is an accusation that other factors should have been taken into account, I'd use 'on just two criteria'. // Your explanatory comment needs to be part of the 'question'. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 14 '17 at 20:31

The sentence is grammatically okay but places a burden on the reader to group the two criteria. In the case of the example, grades and extra-curricular activities cover a lot of territory. What's excluded?

It would be better to replace "solely on" with "on two criteria:"

  • the context is that this person was selected in a fair manner i.e. on the basis of his grades and extra curricular activities, and not because of any other reason – wdihtwtd26 Jun 14 '17 at 20:16
  • You need to emphasise the smallness of the number of criteria involved with say 'on just two ...'. / I'm reminded of the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch: 'Our chief weapon is surprise ... surprise and fear ... fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise ... and ruthless efficiency.... Our three weapons ... – Edwin Ashworth Jun 14 '17 at 20:16
  • 1
    "based entirely on" might work as well, rather than "based solely on". It makes it clear that these two criteria were the only ones used. – Jim MacKenzie Jun 14 '17 at 22:25
  • I don't like "based entirely on" as well as "based solely on." Also, "on two criteria" is not necessary. – aparente001 Jun 16 '17 at 1:48

You are correct that definition #2 covers your case. I don't have an example at hand but have seen that usage both in fiction and in technical papers.

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